comScore Science Could Use Lasers to Deflect Lighting | The Mary Sue
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Maybe Lasers Could Be Used to Deflect Lightning From Buildings

If that doesn't work, perhaps some ill-tempered mutated sea bass.


Buildings getting struck by lightning accounts for more than $1 billion worth of damage in the U.S. every year. While there are ways to mitigate the amount of damage caused by directing the lightning away and into the ground, all those methods are just so… boring. You know what aren’t boring? High intensity lasers. Heeeeell yeah!

According to research recently published in Nature Photonics and carried out by scientists from the University of Arizona and University of Central Florida, beams of high-energy focused light may be able to direct lightning towards a path of least resistance by ionizing the surrounding molecules in the air and creating a plasma channel for the lightning to travel down. Current lightning rod technology works on a similar theory, though these rods aren’t made of freaking lasers so they’re obviously not as awesome.

Of course, firing lasers all willy nilly into the air sounds great to us, but it’s pretty unfeasible to do — atmospheric interference would cause these “laser beams” (we have to put them in quotation marks, you understand) to lose power after only a few inches. Luckily the scientists thought of this, and have suggested embedding the high-intensity laser in the middle of a lower-intensity “dress” beam that helps it stay focused. That’s right, apparently you can solve any laser problem with more lasers. We’d always suspected this to be the case.

The team hopes that using this technology, they can extend a high intensity beam up to 165 feet high in real-world conditions. We hope they’re able to accomplish this as quickly as possible so we can put them on all of our tallest skyscrapers and pretend that they are cosplaying as giant lightsabers. Oh, and for people’s safety and stuff too, we guess. That’s probably also important.

(via Txchnologist, image via Austin Powers)

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